Legislators spurn new restrictions on bounty hunters

Legislation designed to crack down on bounty hunters following a fatal shooting in Clarksville last spring has died quietly in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, reports the Leaf-Chronicle.

The bill (HB2007), sponsored in the House by Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, and in the Senate by Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, was defeated by voice vote without a single question being asked, Pitts said.

“I regret we were unable to see this bill advance. We worked with law enforcement, and the bail bond industry for several months to come up with some very common sense changes that would enhance public safety,” Pitts said.

“The vote was a surprise given the lack of questions or concerns raised by the committee during the hearing. I hope another tragedy like the one in our community in 2017 doesn’t happen before needed changes are made.” 

Among other elements, the proposed legislation would have:

-Banned bounty hunting by convicted felons and dishonorably discharged veterans.

-Required bounty hunters to coordinate their efforts with the local Sheriff’s Office.

-Banned the use of any uniform or badge with the words “agent” or “officer” or that imply law enforcement powers.

-Required training with weapons or animals used in bounty hunting.

-Banned breaking motor vehicle laws while bounty hunting.

The legislation was spurred by the death of Jalen Johnson Milan, 24, who was shot April 23 (in Clarksville) after bounty hunters and bondsmen opened fire on a car he was riding in while they were looking for another man who had skipped bond.

The other man was not in the car, and Milan died from his injuries. The seven bounty hunters and bondsmen were charged with murder.

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